Addressing a three day Information Communication Technology (ICT) conference at Sun City, North West in South Africa which was organised by Software Application Programme (SAP), ANC Treasurer General, Mathews Phosa, said technology was a vital tool in curbing the high crime rate as well as providing public security using modern technology.
“Information technology can enable better crime and terror prevention as well as disaster management and therefore increase public security. Africa’s challenge is to seize Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) opportunities,” said Phosa.
He said South Africa and the rest of the continent should use FDI to create as many horizontal and vertical linkages as possible with the domestic economy, by encouraging infrastructure development and skills transfer and by facilitating domestic employment and enterprise generation, in addition to earning export revenues.
“There is huge potential for innovative services. Information about demographic change and health will assist in enabling innovative workplaces and addressing the needs of all inhabitants of the continent in a more comprehensive way,” said Phosa.
Phosa said Africa could only stay competitive through innovative usage of IT to act as a main driver for innovation, and is therefore key to future growth and employment in Africa.
He said Africa was an emerging market with great potential, which also boasted an abundance of riches, such as 10% of the world’s reserves of oil; 40% of its gold; and 80-90% of the chromium and platinum metal groups.
“The above are just the known reserves; no doubt more lies underneath our rich soil, yet to be discovered,” said Phosa.
He indicated that FDI for South Africa increased from US$9 billion in 2000 to US$62 billion in 2000, citing telecommunications, banking, retailing and construction as the main flourishing sectors.
He however cited lack of infrastructure in rural areas, inefficient and unreliable communication systems with low levels of education, scarcity of skilled labour and high cost of doing business as some of the continent’s challenges.
Speaking at the same function, SAP Head of Emerging Markets, Simon Paris, urged South Africans and Africa to identify innovative solutions, embrace Africa’s individuality and leverage off opportunities such as the high mobile penetration, strong need for improved service delivery, health and education and disaster management.